The decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resign from the Democratic leadership is a seismic event in Washington politics, shaking the foundations of the Congress she has led for the past two decades.
This will have far-reaching effects on Capitol Hill opening the door for a new crop of Democratic leaders to take over once the Republicans seize control of the House and rebrand the party after Pelosi’s 20 years at the helm. As the end of the Pelosi era approaches, here are five things to remember.
Democrats now look to Finally Choose Pelosi’s Successor
After a long period in the minority, Pelosi once again became the most powerful elected woman in U.S. history in 2019 when she was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. In fact, she maintains that status to this day. Her vantage point gave her the ability to champion numerous bills to help women including this year’s attempt to enshrine Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court struck down abortion protections.
On Thursday, Pelosi gave a speech from the House floor in which she reflected on the progress women have made since her election 35 years ago and the long strides that remain. She introduced herself as Speaker as well as a wife, a mother and a grandmother.
Thank you all — and may God continue to bless the United States of America. pic.twitter.com/XDlQRwvDjY
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 17, 2022
In 1987, when I was first elected to Congress there were only 12 female Democrats. As of right now, there are over 90, she remarked. Moreover, our needs continue to grow. Well-known pieces of Pelosi’s legislative legacy include ObamaCare. The post-Great Recession Wall Street reforms and the massive climate package signed by Vice President Joe Biden this year.
In addition, she earned a name for herself as a vote counter and persuader of skepticism among legislators by helping pass contentious legislation despite the risk to their own political fortunes. Together, these factors made her one of the most influential speakers in American history and encouraged other women to enter politics.
McConnell Congratulates Pelosi on ‘Historic Tenure’ and ‘Path-Breaking Career’
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell extended his congratulations to outgoing House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for concluding her historic tenure in that role and for her consequential and path-breaking career.
In a statement released on Thursday night, he said, “The Speaker and I have disagreed frequently and forcefully over the years, but I have seen firsthand the depth and intensity of her commitment to public service.”
McConnell congratulates Speaker Pelosi on “concluding her historic tenure” and notes her “consequential and path-breaking” career. pic.twitter.com/617IfToogq
— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) November 18, 2022
There is no doubt that Speaker Pelosi’s career will have far-reaching consequences, he said. The 116th Congress led by McConnell in the Senate and Pelosi in the House met from 2019 to 2020 and was marked by a government shutdown caused by a disagreement between President Trump and Democratic leaders over funding for a wall along the southern border of the United States.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in March of 2020, they collaborated to pass the $2 trillion CARES Act which included unemployment benefits support for small businesses, tax relief and aid for state and local governments.
Hours after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy missed Pelosi’s speech announcing her intention to resign as leader of the House Democratic caucus, McConnell issued his statement.
While Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is widely expected to replace Pelosi as House minority leader, Pelosi plans to stay on in Congress for the time being to serve in a mentoring role. On November 30th, Democrats in the House will vote on a new leadership team.
A Unifying Speech By Pelosi
Pelosi’s father served in the House of Representatives for much of the 1940s and as a result, she and the Republicans often find themselves in heated debates over a wide range of political and policy issues. Contrary to the usual practice on Capitol Hill, she refrained from engaging in partisan flame wars in her Thursday speech.
Pelosi on the other hand attempted to rise to the occasion by delivering a message of unity and high ideals citing prominent Republicans such as Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln to argue that defending the country’s founding principles is a joint effort.
They have put their faith in us and we owe it to them to do everything in our power to repay that trust, she said. To strive in perpetuity for the more perfect union, the glorious horizon our founders envisioned. Not what Pelosi said, but what she didn’t say, on Thursday was the real political jab at the Republicans.
Pelosi listed George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden as presidents she enjoyed working with but left out Donald Trump. A few Republican legislators were present to hear the speech and this glaring omission did not seem to bother them.
Is Pelosi Steps Down From Democrat leadership?
With this move, Pelosi breaks the leadership logjam she, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn have formed over the past two decades making way for a “new generation” of liberals to rise in the Democratic ranks.
Hoyer, who has been Pelosi’s No. 2 for many years announced minutes after the Speaker’s decision that he would step down from Democratic leadership next year, paving the way for a major shakeup at the top of the caucus and the emergence of a new group of liberal leaders. Clyburn has stated his intent to continue serving in a leadership role, though he has not specified what capacity.
BREAKING: Nancy Pelosi steps down from Democrat Leadership after 29 years
“I will not seek re-election as Democratic leader of our caucus in the next Congress."
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 17, 2022
Although the change in leadership only became official on Thursday. It had been widely anticipated in the nation’s capital for weeks. Hakeem Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar are widely considered to be the next “big three” Democrats in the House of Representatives.
On Thursday, however, none of them declared their candidacy, choosing instead to put the spotlight on their seasoned leader. Speaker Pelosi “meant a lot to that chamber, to the California delegation and to me personally,” told reporters. We’re all just trying to process what we heard and honor her legacy. What I’m thinking about at the moment is what you just listed.
Despite the fact that Pelosi and Hoyer are both on the path to becoming regular members, their perspectives on the matter couldn’t be more different. I feel balanced about it all, the Speaker said to reporters in the House chamber. I’m not feeling down at all.
Is Pelosi’s Speech Divided Congress and Country?
Polarization between the parties has grown significantly during Pelosi’s time in office. And the partisan divide that plagues Congress and the country was on full display in the House chamber during Pelosi’s speech.
Democratic Party supporters, on the other hand, filled nearly every seat and applauded Pelosi several times throughout her 16-minute speech. On the other side, there were barely any Republicans and many empty seats.
Many Republicans including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise spoke highly of the outgoing Speaker, even as they emphasized their policy differences. Representative Doug LaMalfa remarked, “It has been historic”. She has been holding up admirably for her conference. There’s competition between teams and all that sure but in the end, we all try to think about and improve our interpersonal skills.
Even so, the Republican seats that were empty served as a stark reminder of the continuing partisan divide, especially in light of last year’s attack on the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, was not present. Not all Democrats were taken aback by the absence of Republicans. Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia said, “I have unfortunately come to expect an utter lack of regard for civility, collegiality, institutional respect and frankly even respect for the American public” from Republicans.
Whether they like it or not, the American people sent them a message last Tuesday. Specifically, we wished for less of that. We want a lot more civility and respect and a lot less polarisation and anger and none of this craziness, he went on.
Warning About Democracy
Pelosi’s final days as Democratic leader will be remembered for the times she stood up for American democracy even when it meant clashing with her opponents. Pelosi presided over two impeachments of former President Trump, appointed a select committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and ensured that the House would meet again to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election in the same chamber that rioters had invaded.
Pelosi was careful not to directly attack Republicans in her Thursday speech. But she did make a strong case for the necessity of defending America’s founding principles if the country is to survive.
The Speaker of the House stated, American Democracy is majestic but it is fragile. Many of us in this chamber have seen its vulnerability firsthand, tragically. So long as there are enemies of democracy, it will always need to be protected. Pelosi’s resignation came a day after the official midterm results gave the Republicans control of the House.
Yet it was the Democrats who had outperformed expectations at the polls, preventing the significant gains that GOP leaders had anticipated. Pelosi argued that voters shared her awareness of the precarious nature of democracy and she issued a dire warning as a result.
The American people made their voices heard last week, she said. They spoke out in defense of individual rights, the rule of law and the very concept of democracy.
Nancy Pelosi Announces She Won’t Run for the Leadership Post, Marking the End of an Era
On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi announced that after two decades at the helm of the House Democrats, she will step down as Speaker. Pelosi has been one of the most influential and divisive figures in American politics.
Pelosi, the first and only woman to hold the position of speaker has announced that she will continue to serve in the House, allowing the next generation of Democrats to take the helm in 2019. Despite a better-than-expected performance in the midterm elections, the House Democrats will be in the minority next year.
Pelosi announced in the House chamber, “I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress”. I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to take on this enormous responsibility and I believe the time has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.
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